“You don’t learn how to write a song at school, you don’t do a TAFE course on how to play in front of an audience, small venues were my university. I still go to music pubs and cafes all the time to do some study…a refresher course.”
– Paul Kelly, ever so succinct and true
Happy National SLAM Day!
Two years ago, Melbourne turned it up to eleven and protested against our draconian liquor licensing laws, laws that were having a seriously negative effect on the state of live music in our rock city. Live venues across Melbourne had been on shaky ground for awhile, but when The Tote announced it was closing, around 4000 of us showed up on the second-last day of trading (source: ABC Melbourne) to not only shed a tear, but to stamp our feet.
The Tote closing? The iconic, legendary, not-at-all-violent Tote had been struck by The Man, and we punters were not gonna ta-aaa-aaa-ke it.
These laws stated that when amplified music occurred — where amplified was defined as being louder than just simply music played in the background — minimum amounts of security guards were required, even when common sense circumstances said that such provisions were not required. Music Doesn’t Make You Violent has a detailed wrap-up of the controversy, along with ongoing updates.
On the 23rd of February, 20,000 of us — the punters, the players, those who loved music — marched to Spring St to tell the government that it was not okay to let these venues close. This was the SLAM Rally, the Save Live Australian Music Rally.
Since then, The Tote has reopened and there has been some reform in the way of the liquor licensing laws that contributed to its closure in the first place. Despite the fact that live music is cuturally vital to Melbourne’s tourism and livability (did you know that live music is more popular than footy, among other fantastic statistics), the fight does not end here. The Government continues to slash funding to the arts and musicians who are not Gaga-tier still live precariously close to the poverty line.
So it’s more important than ever to continue supporting live music. Find a gig to go to tonight. More to the point, find a gig tomorrow, and one on Saturday. Maybe you’ll find your dancing shoes, the next big thing, some friends, some lovers, or even just yourself, but you will most definitely contribute to what is a vibrant, colourful and important community.
Because who wants to imagine a live music scene without Henry Wagons in it?
(picture credit: slamrally.org)
(I’m off to The Retreat to see Spencer P. Jones. I’ve lived in Brunswick for 5 years, lived 10 minutes from The Retreat for the last three, and by some statistical anomaly have not seen Spencer P. Jones. Time to right the wrongs!)
xoxo Nyssa on the 23rd February, 2012 | 1 comment
filed under music
and tagged with | Fair Go for Live Music, The Tote
I bought Neil some beer for Valentine’s Day. It’s not a holiday we really get into. The Man doesn’t need to tell me to go tell my fiance I think he’s alright! However, telling my fiance he’s a bit of alright is a nice thing to do, so we decided to go on a date. We went on Friday instead of Tuesday so we could have a cheeky drink and not have to worry about getting up early for work the next day.
After dinner and a trip to St Jerome’s new bar, The Resurrection, we trammed down Lygon St to The John Curtain Hotel to see Johnny Rock and The Limits.
Just Briefly –
Neil: “Look at all this film you’ve got in the fridge!”
Nyssa: “I don’t have that much. Some Kodak 110, and some medium format stuff from the sixties I got from the Camberwell market.”
Neil: “What’s this black and white stuff?”
Nyssa: “Some 3200 speed stuff Jared gave me. I have no idea what to do with it.”
Jane: “So grainy. You could probably use it at a gig.”
Although the only way to really find out how the film would go would be to, you know, actually use it, I decided to set my digital camera to black and white, while setting the ISO to 3200, just as a test run. I photographed The Limits in the studio while recording their EP last week, so they’re now used to me getting all up in their face, making them the perfect subject for this little experiment.
xoxo Nyssa on the 18th February, 2012 | 1 comment
filed under music | out and about | photography
and tagged with | johnny rock and the limits, the john curtain hotel
It should be said that I was not blog-idle during my hiatus. So there will be a post here and there that isn’t up-to-the-minute fresh, but still worth revisiting I believe.
In a couple of weeks time, I will be playing my first gig (with original songs!) in… errr… quite awhile. I will be acoustic guitar-ing and singing alongside Derwin John (of The Minx Zone), Sam Bethune (formally of the Skybombers, in his first solo performance), Ash Pegram, and Becc and Colin Pyrene. I’m even headlining.
Anyway. I’m not even completely rusty, as I did play one of my favourite club nights, Weekender, at Yah-Yah’s back in October last year. And I did write about it:
This weekend past I performed alongside Johnny Rock (of Johnny Rock and The Limits) at Weekender, an indie club night that was hosted at Yah Yah’s on Smith Street, Fitzroy. (You may remember it from The Ding Dong Lounge, currently under repair). It may have been only three songs, covers at that, but for me, it felt like a lot more than that.
Up until about three or four years ago I could confidently confirm that I had been playing guitar for the last ten years. Ten years! I wasn’t too bad at it either, especially when I practiced. And while I’ve usually sung out of necessity, I can can carry a tune without offending too many people. Unless I’m in the car on my own, in which it is game on, surrounding motorists. I wrote songs and I played gigs, usually supporting my friends or at an open mic night.
Then, once I was medicated, music didn’t quite sound the same, and it didn’t feel as good to play. I bottled a live performance once, stumbling over a set I had been too lethargic and apathetic to rehearse, before cutting it short and jumping down from the stage to Neil and Jane in the front to tear up a little bit. And other than the odd, short-lived muck around, I haven’t really played my guitar since. It’s not because I actively avoided playing the guitar, but more because I had lost the confidence in my own ability. I would threaten to pull my guitar out every now and then, especially if I’d seen a particular inspiring gig, before slinking home and not following through.
I told Johnny I would support him in an acoustic show about this time last year. We even rehearsed a duet together. However, when I was left to rehearse my own songs, I couldn’t quite face them. Most songs were hitting the four-five year-old mark, and about a life I wasn’t involved with anymore. I didn’t quite like the idea of reliving a lot of that, so I did was everyone who has faced such demons does — I made excuses to Johnny to push back booking the gig, hoping he would either forget or give up having me as a support. For some reason, it was easier to be a shitty friend and bad musical parter, than it was to face the music.
It has to be said, I absolutely underestimated Johnny’s memory and loyalty. It’s what makes him a great mate. He called me last week asking if I wanted to do this Weekender gig, a couple of britpop covers in an acoustic set. I said sure, put the phone down, and promptly freaked out. As you do.
We rehearsed ‘Pumping on Your Stereo’ by Supergrass and ‘Common People’ by Pulp, while Johnny mentioned he would probably do Suede’s ‘She’s in Fashion’ on his own, although he would call me the afternoon of the gig to suggest I join him on ‘She’s in Fashion’, for continuity purposes and all. Cue me downloading the song that evening and listening to it for the first time (see my post about missing Britpop the first time around).
While it couldn’t be said that the gig went off without a hitch, the small little mistakes I did make mean I could bust out the joke, “well, I couldn’t relate to my groove in that bit.” People came up to me later and said how it looked like I was having so much fun, so even if they didn’t say I was good, I think I could at least argue that I was entertaining. And I mean, really, when you’re having a beer and taking in a Suede cover band called The Per-Sueders, what do you really want?
(Not that I want to ruin the je ne sais rock of these pictures taken by Ms Rock herself, Kasia, but Johnny is often quite keen to admit that those sunglasses are prescription, and he’s only wearing them indoors because he lost his ordinary glasses. True story.)
So that was all back in October. See you on March the 1st at Dirty Secrets!
xoxo Nyssa on the 13th February, 2012 | 2 comments
filed under music | out and about
and tagged with | dirty secrets, i just play a rockstar on the internet, johnny rock and the limits, weekender, yah yah's
Hello! Yes, I have fired up ye olde blog again. I was hacked a couple of months ago (no political message, but they left a very charming picture of a cowboy hat) and took the time to go camping, get some sun, see some music, and make my own, chic WordPress theme. That’s Tilly lounging up there. He is quite chic when he’s not doing yoga and cleaning himself.
So I anticipate some more fashion on the blog, plenty more music, lots of DIY, and, most likely, more pictures of my cat. He’s quite cute.